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The Short Version: Typical dating sites may not be kind to plus-size singles. User preferences may favor people who are fit and thin, making larger daters feel unwelcome or unattractive. Bustr flips that “thin is in” dynamic by catering to bigger men and women — and their admirers. The platform is on a mission to create a safe space for heavier singles in the dating world.
Daters who don’t fit conventional beauty norms may struggle to succeed on traditional dating sites. Singles with bigger bodies worry they may not be desirable because dating site profiles often include words like “fit” or “active” to describe what a suitable match should look like.
“Dating while fat can be an incredibly fraught endeavor. It’s easy to find someone to fetishize you, as Aubrey Gordon wrote in the 2021 Vox essay ‘Such a Pretty Face,’ but finding someone who’s actually going to love and respect you — regardless of your size — can be far trickier. If 18% of physicians admit to feeling disgusted when treating a patient with a high BMI, what does that say about the general population?” wrote Emma Specter for Vogue.
Specter added that when she uses dating apps, she often sees many users add coded language and gym selfies to their profiles. That implies they seek an equally thin partner. She said that dynamic makes her feel as if she can’t connect with anyone unless she loses weight.
Singles with bigger bodies may find online dating a particularly fraught endeavor. That’s why so many turn to Bustr, a dating platform designed specifically for heavier men and women and their admirers.
Bigger singles want to feel confident when they use dating apps. They also want to find other daters looking specifically for someone who has their body type. Otherwise, they may lack the confidence to chat with someone through a dating app, let alone meet up in person.
Bustr has found its niche by offering singles just that. On average, the platform adds more than 200,000 new users each month, with more than 80% of them in the United States.
Bustr was founded in 2015 to create a space where bigger daters feel welcome — and prioritized. The app caters to big, beautiful women — also known as BBWs — and larger men. It also caters to people who want to date larger men and women.
“Bustr has a simple and clear mission: to create an exclusive community where plus-size women and plus-size men can find meaningful connections with people who share similar interests and likes,” Cecelia, Bustr spokesperson, told us.
Bustr offers features similar to those on most dating sites and more unusual ones. It includes matching, searching, chatting, and a unique user authentication feature. The feature issues authentication badges to users who have passed verification and gives them priority status on the platform.
Many features are also free for users.
“Every user can use match, links, and chat for free every day. That is, new users can use most of Bustr’s features without paying for them,” said Cecilia.
The site also has a subscription option.
Users who join Bustr can share photos and other information about themselves. The team suggests users share stories and passions to demonstrate they can talk about more than just the weather with potential partners.
New users can also feel confident that their photos and information are secure.
After users complete a profile, they can search for others and swipe right or left. Users receive daily matches curated by the site’s algorithms.
Users can also report issues to the team if someone behaves inappropriately.
Many plus-sized folks and mixed-size couples have found love on Bustr. Some have even forged long-term relationships or marriages.
“The first time we met on Bustr and chatted for a few hours. He called me the next day to ask me out. It has been one year since we met on here and we will be moving together next month. He’s my best friend, my star, and according to him, my future husband,” one user shared in a testimonial.
The team is satisfied that it is fulfilling its mission of helping BBW and plus-size men find singles who will love them for who they are.
“We’re really happy users have found love and marriage on our platform. We regularly receive letters of thanks for creating the platform. These success stories and thank-you notes continue to encourage us to develop more and more interesting features,” Cecilia told us.
Users share their stories of connections that go beyond physical size.
“I would not have met my husband if not for this dating app. It has been two years since we met on the Bustr. We found our soulmates [in] each other, and it’s all thanks to this app. Now we have a child, and we live a happy life,” one wrote.
“We met back in November 2018 on a dating app — thanks to Bustr. I can’t imagine my life without him (who would do the dishes?). He accepts my hangry crankiness, appreciates my humor, and supports my ventures,” another added.
Heavier singles may feel unwelcome on other dating sites, which is why they have flocked to Bustr in droves. Bustr users don’t have to wonder whether they will face shame or rejection from other users. They know other singles on the platform prefer their body type.
Bustr singles don’t have to navigate through coded language to determine whether they are being excluded because of their body type. Instead, they can match with users who find them attractive and focus their attention on building connections beyond superficial concerns.
“The Bustr app has specific services for this population and can be used to serve more specific people with more specialized functions,” said Cecilia.
Bustr plans to roll out two of those functions in 2022. The first is a new feature on the current version of iOS that will make it easier for users to find love and relationships.
The second is to launch an Android version of Bustr, allowing more mobile users to easily find partners.
Cecilia suggested that plus-size users try Bustr, especially those who may feel unwelcome on other dating sites. Bustr plays a more vital role than ever before since the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to meet potential partners in person.
“We want to provide users with a place of freedom in these tough times. We let users at home be social. Bustr will continue to develop more interesting features to create a harmonious and beautiful community for all plus-size users,” she said.